Beer Me: Four Tips for Risk-Free Workplace Happy Hours

Workplace happy hour

One of the trendy perks in today’s workplace is a weekly happy hour. Some companies even go so far as to host their happy hour onsite, keeping a full kegerator in the kitchen and encouraging staff to partake and socialize at the end of a long day. As mobile technology and flexible schedules continue to blur the line between work and personal time, socialization – and drinking – is becoming more commonplace in the workplace, and bringing with it some management headaches. Here are four tips to keep your happy hours “happy.”

Don’t Make It Mandatory
There are many reasons an employee might opt out of a happy hour: family commitments, religious reasons or health issues among them. But whatever the reason, it’s stressful enough for employees to opt out – missing social events often makes staff members feel like the odd one out and like they’re missing a chance to connect with the higher-ups. If you plan a company happy hour, make sure everyone knows attendance is optional and don’t pressure staff to attend.

Set Limits
It’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid overindulging at company events. The event is about relaxing and socializing, not about who can take the most shots. Use happy hour as an opportunity to mentor younger employees on professionalism and set a good example by keeping consumption in check. If you’re buying, keep it to a single round. If your company has decided to provide on-site libations, provide clear guidelines on when, where, and how much employees are able to consume.

Address Issues Immediately
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which can lead to awkward and inappropriate behavior. If happy hour conversation gets out of hand, make sure supervisors address it immediately and appropriately. If an employee drinks too much and can’t drive, have a plan in place to help them get home safely, whether it’s a designated driver for the team or a directive to expense an Uber or taxi ride. Expectations and regulations should be outlined in your company handbook and clearly communicated to employees. Reinforce that these events are a privilege, not a right, and don’t hesitate to change your policy if behavior warrants it.

Provide Other Options
Happy hours shouldn’t be the only way for employees to come together. When you’re planning social events, be sure to take into account the diverse interests of your staff. Create a calendar that includes a wide range of social events, including family-friendly and weekend activities. Provide opportunities for informal socializing during the workday, too. Breaks help restore motivation and boost inspiration while giving your team a chance to bond.

Are you interested in instituting regular happy hours or installing a kegerator? We'd love to help you work through the challenges and develop an effective game plan.

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